Seattle Sounders v D.C. United

Can D.C. or Seattle make MLS Cup?


D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders find themselves down two goals and three goals, respectively, in their quests to get to MLS Cup on December 1. That’s not good. Not good at all.

Their opponents, the Houston Dynamo and the LA Galaxy, are massive favorites to advance. As’s Simon Borg notes, only two teams — the 2003 San Jose Earthquakes and the 2004 Kansas City Wizards — have ever come back from a two-goal deficit. That’s a 25 percent success rate, which is not encouraging. (But also maybe better than expected?)

The 2011 Sounders are the only team in league history to start the second leg down three goals. They lost 3-2 on aggregate to Real Salt Lake.

So it doesn’t look very good. But if a team is going to make a run, which one will it be?

D.C. United would be the sensible pick, seeing as they have less of a hill to climb. And Ben Olsen squad appeared destined to reach the league’s final game after their insane run of late-season form. That said, a variety of circumstances conspired to stop them. First, injuries, injuries, injuries. They did okay without DeRo — you know, for a team losing its best player and all — but Chris Pontius reaggrevated a groin injury in the first leg. And Andy Najar is out, suspended after throwing the ball at a ref. They will struggle to score without those two.

So, I’m taking Seattle. (Note: I don’t think either underdog will make it to MLS Cup.) The Sounders have a massive home-field advantage and plenty of weapons. The Galaxy look unbeatable, but maybe second-choice centerback Tommy Meyer chokes. Get one goal early, get the crowd (even more involved), and this thing gets interesting.

Don’t forget: Weird things happen when the Galaxy go to Seattle in big matches.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?